Te Reinga Falls

Wairoa, North Island, New Zealand

About Te Reinga Falls

Hiking Distance: 200m round trip to overlook; 800m round trip scramble to better view
Suggested Time: 15-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2004-11-15
Date last visited: 2004-11-15

Waterfall Latitude: -38.83074
Waterfall Longitude: 177.51939

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Te Reinga Falls was a waterfall that Julie and I had to do a little bit of an unofficial scramble to even get a decent view of it.

Despite the fact that this waterfall was well signposted with an official overlook, that sanctioned way of experiencing the falls was very unsatisfactory.

Te_Reinga_Falls_017_11142004 - Te Reinga Falls
Te Reinga Falls

While we anticipated a nice view of the Wairoa River (a combination of the Ruakituri and Hangaroa Rivers) dropping some 35m in a spectacular display, all we were able to see was the river disappearing over its crest further downstream.

Our only consolation prize was that we happened to have timed our visit to at least see some rainbows refracting the sunlight in the rising mist of the scene.

Even in getting that elusive upstream view, you can see that the picture you see above leaves a lot to be desired.

Accessing Te Reinga Falls

From the signposted car park (see directions below), we took the five-minute track to get to the overlook, which sat at the top of a hill overlooking Te Renga Falls.

Te_Reinga_Falls_001_11142004 - Julie on the short walk leading to the overlook of Te Reinga Falls
Julie on the short walk leading to the overlook of Te Reinga Falls

Julie and I were determined to get a better view of this falls so we spotted an informal path branching off the main track just where the overlook railing ended.

At that point, we followed along a trail of use (clearly many other people had gone this way before) as went through somewhat of a gully into a grassy area hugging the hill supporting the overlook above.

As the informal track went around the hill, we then had to negotiate a steep but small dropoff.

We had met another small group of people who had just done this scramble and encouraged us to give this scramble a try.

Te_Reinga_Falls_010_11142004 - View from the official lookout over the lip of Te Reinga Falls
View from the official lookout over the lip of Te Reinga Falls

This dropoff was tall enough that my feet wouldn’t touch the ground, but at least that “leap of faith” wasn’t very high off the ground so I never feared for my own safety.

Actually, the tricky part was on the return when Julie had to give me a boost to get back up the small dropoff, then I had to pull Julie back up so she could scale the dropoff as well.

I could imagine how this scramble would be impassable due to mud and slippery rocks under wetter conditions.

In any case, once we were below this dropoff, we were on a rounded rocky outcrop just above the Wairoa River where we got the partial profile view you see at the top of this page.

Te_Reinga_Falls_016_11142004 - Broad contextual look at the Te Reinga Falls as seen from as far as we could safely see the waterfall without falling into the river
Broad contextual look at the Te Reinga Falls as seen from as far as we could safely see the waterfall without falling into the river

We didn’t bother scrambling any further as the rounded rock surface was slippery and conspired to make us slip and fall into the river had we chanced it further.

Looking further downstream, we saw where the river was much calmer; contrasting the turbulence just further upstream.

This scramble took us about 30 minutes round trip.

I had seen in the literature that the most preferred view would be from directly across the Wairoa River.

Te_Reinga_Falls_021_11142004 - Looking downstream from our informal viewing spot of the Te Reinga Falls
Looking downstream from our informal viewing spot of the Te Reinga Falls

It looked like in the past, such a view was accessible. However, in recent times, it appeared that only the most adventurous could gain such access.

At least Te Reinga Falls was allowed to remain (residing in its own reserve) as it was once threatened by hydroelectric power development proposals.


Te Reinga Falls resides in the Te Reinga Scenic Reserve near Wairoa in the East Coast region of North Island, New Zealand. It is administered under the jurisdiction of the Department of Conservation. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Te_Reinga_Falls_022_11142004 - The signpost at the car park for Te Reinga Falls
Te_Reinga_Falls_004_11142004 - The disappointing view over the lip of Te Reinga Falls from the official lookout with a slight rainbow in the waterfall's mist
Te_Reinga_Falls_020_11142004 - A more zoomed in partial look at Te Reinga Falls

From Wairoa, we headed north on the SH38 for about 8km into Frasertown, which was where the SH38 junctioned with Tiniroto Road (SH36).

Continuing for about 26km on Tiniroto Rd, we then turned left onto Ruakituri Rd, which crossed a long bridge over the Wairoa River.

The car park for Te Reinga Falls was on the other side of the bridge.

Coming in the opposite direction from Gisborne, it would be about an hours drive to the falls along the Tiniroto Rd.

For context, Wairoa was about 90 minutes drive northeast of the Art Deco town of Napier or over 3 hours drive southeast of Taupo. Taupo was a little over an hour drive south of Rotorua. Rotorua was about 3 hours drive to the southeast of Auckland.

Gisborne was about 3.5 hours drive east of Rotorua.

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Tagged with: tiniroto, wairoa, gisborne, urewera, ruakituri, hawkes bay, north island, new zealand, waterfall

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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